Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Battle of the Bulge: Diet Rules the Day

O Magazine, March 2013

The Last Word on Exercise vs. Diet

The workout proponent admitted that weight loss can be achieved by diet alone, but advocated exercise in terms of maintaining muscle and bone density. Muscle takes up less room than fat, so while the scale may not have such a low number, one is still trimmer. Exercise has a number of health benefits, like good sleep, lowering cholesterol and stress.

According to Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic:

As a rule of thumb, weight loss is 75% diet and 20% exercise. An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart. On average, people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds; the exercisers lost only 6 over about 21 weeks. It's much easier to cut calories than to burn them off. For example, if you eat a fast-food steak quasadilla, which can pack 500+ calories, you need to run more than four miles to "undo" it.

So, what should you eat? It's true that low-carb diets tend to be most popular because they offer fastest results, but they can be difficult to sustain. I recommend striving for a more balanced plan that focuses on fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and whole-grain carbs. And never cut calories too low (this causes your metabolism to slow, and you can start losing muscle mass). For a healthy daily calorie count, allow 10 calories per pound of body weight - so a 150-pound woman should shoot for a 1,500-calorie target. That way you should be able to lose weight no matter how much you exercise.

The Last Word: While diet and exercise are both important for long-term weight loss, remember this: "You can't out-exercise a bad diet," says Talbott.

I still am often unpleasantly surprised how little calories are burned by physical effort. I can spend a day huffing and puffing in exertion but if I have eaten badly as well, no dice. My body is only impressed when I partake of small suppers.

One can't argue with the scale.  

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